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Just rode the Empire Builder

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Joined
Jun 11, 2019
Messages
11
My wife and I had hoped to leave from Portland and ride through the crazy gorge. Our sleeper would have been cut into the Builder from Seattle at Spokane, but track issues closed the route. Amtrak offered us an 8 hour bus ride or a Cascades coach passage to Seattle, which we took. By this time we were pretty hungry and as there is no food in the Seattle station we ate at the 13 coins restaurant, which is about a 100 yard walk. The air quality was not good from the wildfires but slightly better than Portland. The post apocalyptic ambiance of Portland was left with relief.
The trip was good. We had a dining car, the “Flexible Dining” meals were TV dinners but not too bad - heated in a convection oven. Nothing like the real cooked to order meals of old. I had the shrimp, the beef, the veggie enchiladas and the meatballs and pasta. Breakfast was pretty limited; I had the oatmeal and salvaged the egg and sausage out of the breakfast sandwich. Interestingly the dining car was for Sleeper passengers only. With the tables set up for social distancing I don’t think they could have supported more people than the two fully occupied sleepers.
I cannot say too much about the one woman tornado who served the dining car virtually single handed. Fantastic ball of energy. She had a hard working cook and was occasionally helped by a car attendant.
Speaking of car attendants ours was the best we have ever had. Served us cups of ice and soft drinks. Oh yeah due to Covid they have taken out the coffee urns. I think that coffee could have killed any germ on earth.
The coach passengers had to make do with the cafe in the belly of the sightseer car, yep we had that.
About 3 hours out of Seattle the trek was stopped for a little over an hour while police and BNSF authorities investigated undefined “objects placed on the track.”
The trip went well. We could wish for smoother track. The “Romance of the Rails” sometimes wears thin when you get tossed into a bulkhead. Great crew, the train seemed cleaner than other Amtrak ones I’ve ridden, and the flexible dining is survivable, although not a plus. Coach occupancy looked like about 30 pct., the two sleepers were full.
I’ve had some major orthopedic surgery in the past two years that I have not fully recovered from and I very much appreciated the thoughtfulness of the crew in assisting us with our baggage,
 

crescent-zephyr

Conductor
Joined
Oct 21, 2015
Messages
2,683
Picking the Cascades was a good choice! Sorry you missed the Gorge but the departure from Seattle is quite scenic as well.

Is there currently a staff of 2 on the superliner dining Cars?
 
Joined
Jun 11, 2019
Messages
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In
Picking the Cascades was a good choice! Sorry you missed the Gorge but the departure from Seattle is quite scenic as well.

Is there currently a staff of 2 on the superliner dining Cars?
That’s what we had on the Builder.
 

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